Jason Marcano, Tyrone Charles lift Central within fourth consecutive Caribbean semis spot

​File photo: Jason Marcano, centre, and Sean De Silva celebrate a Central FC goal during the Pro League 2017 First Citizens Cup.

Central FC moved within reach of the Concacaf 2018 Caribbean Club Championship semi-finals after dispatching Haiti’s Racing FC 3-0 last Friday in Group B at the Estadio Cibao in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Jason Marcano, 34, sporting bleached dreadlocks and beard, opened the scoring before Tyrone Charles forced an own goal and scored another to put the match out of the bottom-placed Racing’s reach early in the second half as the Couva Sharks ran away comfortable winners.

But Central, the 2015 and 2016 champions, need another victory on Sunday against hosts Atlántico FC in the final match of the group to secure a place at the 2018 semi-finals after finishing fourth in the competition last season.

Back then another Dominican Republic side Cibao FC lifted the 2017 Caribbean crown after edging San Juan Jabloteh 1-0 in the final while Portmore United beat Central to the third-place finish.

Atlántico, who were held to a 2-2 draw against Portmore in the second game of Friday’s double-header in Santiago, leads the group with four points but only ahead of the Jamaicans by goal-difference while Central are third with three points.

Portmore, who defeated Central 2-0 in their opening game last Wednesday, will complete their group play against Racing — a side on the wrong end of two 3-0 defeats — in the first game on Sunday and could pile the pressure on Atlántico and Central.

The top two teams from Group B will join Group A winner Club Atletico Pantoja (Dominican Republic) and runner-up Arnett Gardens (Jamaica) in the 2018 CCC finals, with the champions gaining a place in the 2019 Concacaf Champions League, while the runner-up and third place finishers will qualify for the 2018 Concacaf League.

The fourth-place side will face the winners of the Tier 2 tournament -- Caribbean Club Shield -- in a playoff to determine the third club that will represent the Caribbean in the 2018 Concacaf League. The Tier 2 champions, however, must comply with the minimum CONCACAF Club Licensing requirements to secure participation.

Central, only put together in weeks with thirteen new additions for the campaign and coached by legendary former Trinidad and Tobago forward Stern John, were an improved bunch against the Haitians after losing disappointingly to Portmore.

Marcano fired the Couva Sharks ahead after just 11 minutes from the right, sending a low strike into goalkeeper Floreal Jodelky’s far netting after a move involving Darren Mitchell and the assist from Densill Theobald.

Charles then forced an own goal through defender Paul Marckendel who inadvertently sent the winger's low dangerous cross -- intended for Marcano -- past Jodelky to cushion Central 2-0 five minutes from the break.

Earlier, Racing were fortunate not to concede with Central's Taryk Sampson and captain Carlyle Mitchell getting dangerously close with headers off separate corners.

Racing, meanwhile, had the ball in the back of the Central net on the half-hour mark through Jean Pierre Guerson but the midfielder’s effort was ruled offside.

Charles would however put the match beyond Racing’s reach four minutes into the second half when his deflected shot ended in the back of Jodelky’s net for the 3-0 score after controlling a right side feed from Central’s most exciting player of the game, Nathan Lewis.

Concacaf Caribbean Club Championship 2018
Group B (Dominican Republic)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Central FC 0 v Portmore United FC 2 (Ricardo Morris 47’, Jermie Lynch 86’), at Estadio Cibao, Santiago, Dominican Republic;

Atlántico FC 2 (Engelbert Briceño 7’, Jarol Herrera 16’) v Racing FC 1 (Charles Bendy 27’), at Estadio Cibao, Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Friday, February 9, 2018    
Racing FC 0 v Central FC 3 (Jason Marcano 11’, Paul Marckendel Own Goal 40’, Tyrone Charles 49’), at Estadio Cibao, Santiago, Dominican Republic;

Atlántico FC 2 (Herlyn Cuica 77', 87') v Portmore United FC 2 (Javon East 41', Ewan Grandison 72' pen.), at Estadio Cibao, Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Sunday, February 11, 2018
Portmore United FC (JAM) v Racing FC (HAI), 5pm, Estadio Cibao, Santiago, Dominican Republic;

Atlántico FC (DOM) v Central FC (TRI), 8pm, Estadio Cibao, Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Group A (Trinidad)

Wednesday 31 January 2018
Club Atletico Pantoja 0 vs Arnett Gardens 0, at Ato Boldon Stadium;

W Connection 0 vs Real Hope Football Academy 1 (Jeudy Johnson 2’), at Ato Boldon Stadium.

Friday, February 2, 2018        
Real Hope FA 0 vs Atletico Pantoja 3 (Luis Espinal 35’, Armando Maita 40’, 59’), at Ato Boldon Stadium.

W Connection 2 (Marcus Joseph 2’, 13) vs Arnett Gardens 1 (Fabien Reid 61’ pen.), at Ato Boldon Stadium. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018
Arnett Gardens FC 4 (Fabien Reid 65’, 86’ pen., 90’+2, Leon Strickland 90’) v Real Hope FA 0, at Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, Trinidad;

W Connection FC 0 v Club Atletico Pantoja 3 (Luis Espinal 27’, Armando Maita 30’, Juan Carlos López 65’ pen.), at Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, Trinidad.

Teams at Estadio Cibao on Friday

Racing FC: 1.Floreal Jodelky (GK), 2.Lourent Estenio, 4.Philippe Junior (13.Louissaint Kervenson 71st minute), 5.Senatus Ernso Jr., 7.Charles Bendy, 10.Valcourt Ojulesse (Capt.) (6.Joseph Mitchelson 65th minute), 11.Guillaume Stevenson, 17.Daniel Jamesly, 18.Paul Marckendel, 19.Jean Pierre Guerson, 22.Pierre Francy (35.Metayer Marckenly 81st minute).

Coach: David Thelemaque

Central FC: 30.Montel Joseph (GK); 5.Carlyle Mitchell (Capt.), 9.Tyrone Charles (15.Kaydion Gabriel 55th minute), 11.Darren Mitchell, 12.Taryk Sampson, 13.Rhondel Gibson (29.Jesse Joseph 77th minute), 17.Anthony Wolfe, 18.Densill Theobald, 19.Jason Marcano, 22.Jameel Neptune (10.Keron Cummings 60th minute), 27.Nathan Lewis.

Coach: Stern John